AT News Report
KABUL: An airstrike conducted by international military forces on the night of Friday to Saturday in Kunduz in support of pro-Government forces on the ground killed 13 civilians and injured three more, according to preliminary findings of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The Mission expresses serious concern that initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country. Work is ongoing to verify all civilian casualties that occurred during military operations that were conducted around the time of the airstrike. The incident occurred in the Telawka neighbourhood close to Kunduz city during operations conducted by pro-government forces against Taliban in the area.
UNAMA urges relevant authorities and parties involved in the airstrike to conduct their own enquiries in to the incident and to take immediate steps to safeguard civilians from harm. Parties are urged to publish results of their findings, as well as provide appropriate compensation to victims.
In its 2018 Annual Protection of Civilians Report, released in February 2019, UNAMA reported a sharp increase in civilian casualties from aerial and search operations in 2018 compared to 2017. The report noted that aerial operations by international military forces, as well as search operations conducted by Afghan national security forces and pro-Government armed groups, drove a 24 per cent overall increase in civilian casualties by pro-Government forces. UNAMA expressed particular concern about child casualties from air strikes which have been increasing every year since 2014.
UNAMA reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians from harm, including their obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid death or injury to civilians.
The agency has expressed its condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.